One of the most complex and intricated criminal offenses charged in the state of Florida is unlicensed contracting. The lawmakers of our state have chosen to highly regulate both general and specialized contracting. Anyone who desires to enter into the work of remodeling, structural engineering, HVAC, plumbing and electrical engineering is required to apply for licensure under state law. In order to apply for these licenses, applicants must have the requisite training and experience and must also pay for expensive exams. These stringent requirements, while put in place to ensure that contractors are trained and qualified, can also result in people trying to skirt those requirements and perform work without a license. If you have found yourself in such a situation, you should contact a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense attorney immediately.
Unlicensed contracting is a complicated criminal offense because it often involves aspects of construction law and contract law that are foreign to law enforcement and prosecutors. Many criminal defense lawyers are also unfamiliar with these aspects of the law. For these reasons, it is important that you consult with a lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases and who can construct an effective defense.Elements Of Unlicensed Contracting
Florida Statute 489.127(f) prohibits anyone from “engaging in the business or acting in the capacity of a contractor or advertising himself or herself or a business organization as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified.” Sections of the statute further prohibit performing work without a building permit. While the law on its face seems relatively simple, other sections of the statute expand upon the definition of a “contractor,” and add mind boggling complexity to the crime.
Florida Statute 489.105 (3) lays out the definition of a contractor that is required to be licensed to work in the State of Florida. The law lays out seventeen different types of contractors that are required to be licensed: 1) general contractors; 2) building contractors; 3) residential contractors; 4) Sheet metal contractors; 5) roofing contractors; 6-8) Class A, B, and C air-conditioning contractors; 9) mechanical contractors; 10) commercial pool and spa contractors; 11) residential pool and spa contractors; 12) swimming pool servicing contractors; 13) plumbing contractors; 14) underground utility and excavation contractors; 15) solar contractors; 16) pollutant storage systems contractors and; 17) specialty contractors.
Each of the above-listed contractor types do wildly different types of work and operate under different rules and regulations. A roofing contractor’s duties and responsibilities obviously do not overlap with those of a plumbing contractor, but the unlicensed contractor law applies to them all. This creates complications and sometimes results in the arrests of innocent people. For example, a plumbing contractor is allowed to perform drain cleaning and clearing and is also permitted under their license to install rainwater reservoirs. However, these services do not explicitly require licensing in the state. Police and investigators unfamiliar with the intricacies and exceptions in the law might accidentally charge a person who was not actually acting as an unlicensed contractor. If this has happened to you, it is critical that you retain a detail oriented Clearwater criminal defense attorney right away.Defenses
Defenses to unlicensed contracting cases vary from case to case. Sometimes, the facts of a case will fall under one of the statutory exceptions. For example, a person accused of unlicensed mechanical contracting might be able to argue that the scope of their work is not prohibited by the statute. Such a defense requires a close analysis of the contracts defining the work between the parties and an investigation into the work actually performed. The complexity of the unlicensed contractor law leads to grey areas that can be exploited by an experienced attorney.Speak to a Skilled Defense Lawyer Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law purposefully keep their caseload low so that they can dedicate their time and resources to giving their clients the best possible defense. If you need a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense attorney call us today at 727.897.5413.